5 current footballers who are eligible to represent Kosovo
Eight years on after declaring independence from Serbia, Kosovo was officially recognised by FIFA in May and a week ago, this small nation was assigned to Group I of the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers, joining Iceland, Turkey, Ukraine, Finland and Croatia.
A team which played its first international friendly a couple of years ago and unheard of by many is going to be a part of the qualifiers of the most sought after tournament in international football. It doesn't get much better than this, does it?
As we wait to see the newly admitted nation in qualifier action, here are five players who are eligible to represent Kosovo:
1) Xherdan Shaqiri
With unmistakable legs and a style of play resembling Lionel Messi, Xherdan Shaqiri is a familiar name in world football who was born in Kosovo. His agility, pace and raw power in shooting earned him the name Alpine Messi which sounds just about right.
Though he was always one to watch during his time with Basel, he gained massive attention when he completed his move to Bayern Munich. His time with the German champions lasted three years where he made 52 appearances scoring 11 goals.
He was part of the treble-winning side which dominated Europe under Jupp Heynckes although there was no place for him in the Champions League final which further cemented that he faced stiff competition for a place in the starting XI most of the time. He moved to Inter Milan in 2015 signing a four and a half year contract amidst interest from Stoke City. His playing time at Bayern in the 2014-15 was scarce and he had hoped it would change with Inter but it was the same story.
After an inconsistent six months with the Nerazzurri, the Swiss midfielder was bought by Stoke City for a then club record fee. His first season in the Premier League saw him link up with Bojan Krkic and Afellay, making 27 appearances in the league.
The Stoke midfielder has been making headlines recently, publicly stating that he would be considering a switch to Kosovo after he was overlooked as captain by Switzerland head coach Vladimir Petkovic. “What if the coach of Kosovo wants me as the captain? Of course, I am thinking about it then,” the 24-year-old said. Only time will tell if he would be playing for a different nation after Euro 2016.